“Pinoy Reads Pinoy Books” Meets The Agos Boys
Enlisting myself as a member of the Goodreads group Pinoy Reads Pinoy Books back in December 2012, I never knew that this bunch of geeks will cast a remarkable impression on my reading preferences. For some reasons, the mere thought of Philippine Literature overcasts a gloomy perception in my literary taste—at least in the past. Reading Mga Agos sa Disyerto by five of the most notable literary masters in the country, my take on Philippine Literature has veered to a completely different route.
Why prefer those baloney books fervently misleading you from reality? Why not read those which will knock sense in you? These are some leading questions that came to mind after my Agos ride.
Mga Agos Sa Disyerto by Efren R. Abueg, Dominador B. Mirasol, Rogelio L. Ordoñez, Edgardo M. Reyes, Rogelio R. Sikat.
As a standard rule, every book discussion is primarily conducted on the group’s online thread. In the case of Agos, which is composed of 25 stories, the moderators have managed to divide the stories to carry on for two months—every other day, a story was discussed. Members participating in the discussion were allowed to share their reactions, thoughts, and opinions about the story, with random inputs from everyone. I definitely love this part—there is so much to learn from everyone.
And as the discussion nearly came to an end, an RSVP was sent to every PRPB member, inviting those willing enough to join the actual discussion with the authors. At first I was hesitant to go, as I’m way too shy to mingle with these unfamiliar faces. But in the end, I decided to go.
February 23, 2013. Waking up in the wee hours of morning certainly challenges a sleepyhead like me. Why sleep at all when today’s the group meet-up? Hence, I roused really early to prepare myself. The Dasmariñas-Bacoor ride took me only half an hour due to the nonexistent traffic generally pestering the public on workdays. Another 15 minutes or so took me for a Bacoor-Binakayan ride.
I arrived at our designated rendezvous point, at a former gasoline station called Zeus, earlier than the settled 8am schedule. Shortly, while checking my phone for any texts from Josephine, a woman approached me, introducing herself as Ms. Bebang Siy (author of It’s a Mens World). Inside the car were Kuya Doni, Poy (Ms. Bebang’s fiancé), Jzhun, and Po. A few minutes later, our company’s nearly complete as soon as Josephine and Len arrived, with the only exception of Sam (another author) who joined us in a little while. Jzhun handed us PRPB pins and Po distributed key chains. I chose the one with The Vampire Diaries logo (Yes, I’m a TVD sucker *winks*).
Pinoy Reads Pinoy Books pin
We located Sir Rogelio Ordoñez’s home in front of Alapan Elementary School in Imus. The other group, upon our arrival, was all set up. My eyes drifted towards some familiar faces—Phoebe, Berto, Ella, to name a few. Brimming over the table at one side is a banquet of food, waiting to be greedily consumed by members soon after. Shortly, individual introductions were made. Although Sir Efren Abueg hasn’t made an appearance yet, we still went on with the discussion, chiefly led by Sir Roger himself. While we’re at it, PRPB member’s starving bellies hasn’t endured the tempting spectacle of foods in our very own banquet.
Sir Rogelio Ordoñez
Interestingly enough, Sir Roger shared a lot of facts and his experiences—from personal ones, what has led him towards his writing career (he’s an engineering graduate, you see), to political issues, and so on. It was an amazing experience, witnessing before you a recognized author, chatting like best buds, laughing. Sir Roger’s wit and intellect (with a dash of sarcasm, ha!) charmed us all and completely bowled us over as soon as he started delivering lines from his poems. Indisputably, his memory’s perfectly far superior to younger folks like us. Will I ever be like him when my hair finally turns to gray? How I wish! 🙂
Of course, no book discussion would ever be complete without questions from the group. I believe this was the most intense part, Sir Roger answering the members’ questions honestly and directly, no less than the truth. Most of them completely appalling and scandalous; still, the whole lot make sense nonetheless.
The book discussion with Sir Roger finally drew to a close, yet there’s still no sign of Sir Efren. Nevertheless, an autograph signing and picture taking with Sir Roger took place. In a short while, as soon as lunch came, Sir Efren finally arrived together with some of his family members. So uh-oh, lunch was postponed. However, more information kept pouring over us like a ferocious avalanche. Questions were wildly thrown everywhere and answers were directly provided by Sir Efren nonstop. Parallel to Sir Roger’s, it was an amazing discussion all the same.
Sir Roger signing our books
Sir Efren Abueg
This must be everyone’s favorite portion of our meet-up: LUNCH! Though I have to admit, I didn’t really eat at all. At least no one noticed, I think. I just picked up a banana and puto, and that’s it. Besides, I’m not that hungry anyway.
Another autograph signing and picture taking took place, this time, with Sir Efren. Getting to know each other also transpired throughout that moment.
Sir Efren signing my book
After a slightly extended lunch time, we finally decided to give it a go. A successive historical field trip in Cavite awaits us, and we only have a few hours left before saying our goodbyes. But before that, a group picture should at least be taken.
First off: Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit, Cavite. Home of the first president of the Philippines, Emilio Aguinado’s abode epitomizes that of a well-to-do household and a strategic battle den and refuge. Today, it serves as a museum of sorts, displaying some of the significant items from the family’s possessions to bits and pieces of battle paraphernalia. A tour guide led us on towards the house and elucidated us with relevant specifics of the said house. And as it turns out, this house was really well-planned—from its corners, ceilings, to secret passages, the veranda.
Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit, Cavite
Some museum displays inside the Aguinaldo Shrine
Overlooking the veranda, where Aguinaldo’s daughters were formerly courted by their suitors, is a bronze statue genuinely depicting Aguinaldo’s valor and bravery as a general during the war. Flags were strewn everywhere and at a farther corner, there are giant marble-tiled blocks with signatures of significant faces during the war. At the house’s rear, Aguinaldo’s burial place also lies.
Rearview of Emilio Aguinaldo’s home
Emilio Aguinaldo’s burial place
Pictures were taken (surely it cannot be helped)—what with all the astonishing details of Aguinaldo’s house. We actually wanted to proceed to the famous tower but they wouldn’t let us, so yeah…
The Pinoy Reads Pinoy Books group. I swear, if this was a contest, Ayban already got the best pose award. 🙂
One final pose before leaving Aguinaldo Shrine
Next stop would be the Our Lady of Queen Parish Church in Bacoor where one of the GOMBURZA martyrs formerly ministered and dwelled, Padre Mariano Gomez. Inside this church, each PRPB member conversed in a silent, intimate prayer with God. As one member had put it: “A group that prays together stays forever…”
A panorama shot outside Our Lady of Queen Parish Church in Bacoor.
Inside the church
“A group that prays together stays forever…”
We didn’t stay too long inside the church but subsequently made a quick stroll down the road towards the barangay’s gymnasium. A huge tarpaulin was plastered on one side, revealing some pictures concerning a previous activity conducted in the barangay. Involved in the said activity, Poy’s face was very visible in a good number of photos.
It’s almost time to go, and a final stopover was all we had left. What better way to strip off the heat so desperately harassing us the entire day than a quick stopover to the famous Digman Halo-halo? The place wasn’t at all that huge, and the number of our party packed the entire store. We were served with ice-cold halo-halos courtesy of our organizer, Kuya Doni. While savoring our icy treats, we were asked to share our heartfelt thoughts and experiences with the group’s goings-on that day. Everybody took part and shared their wonderful experiences, including me who said a mere number of words the entire day (fair enough, I’m a self-confessed introvert).
One final group shot was taken in front of the Digman Halo-halo complete with the PRPB’s banner and our happy faces.
Inside the car, Kuya Doni revealed the winner of the online discussion which is no other than—drum rolls—ME! Wow, I really didn’t expect that. They gave me a shirt with the Goodreads logo in front of it and a PRPB logo at the back.
The Goodreads/Pinoy Reads Pinoy Books shirt
“Kay Raechella, Mabuhay ka sa pagtangkilik sa panitikan natin.” Signed by Sir Rogelio Ordoñez.
Sir Efren Abueg’s signature on my copy of Agos
To wrap up our day, Kuya Doni finally dropped us off (Josephine, Len, and I) at Binakayan and said our final goodbyes.
It was truly an exciting day; I’m certainly looking forward to other awesome PRPB meet-ups in the months to come. 🙂
Disclaimer: I do not own all the photos in this blog post. Photos courtesy of Reev Robledo, Phoebe Andamo, and Maria Ella Bestos (Markings of a Dreamer).